A combination of improvements in local recycling programs, recycling policies and the development of a strong private infrastructure has led the recycling and composting to rise sharply in North Carolina, according to Waste Management World.
According to a recent study, published by the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), over 15,000 North Carolinians are now employed in the recycling industry, recycling hundreds of thousands of tones of materials such as construction waste and plastic bottles.
One of the key reasons cited for the increase is rise in the number of households receiving curbside recycling collection to a record high of 1.62 million.
The study further claims that more recyclable commodities are moving away from the waste stream and into the stream of commerce. The rise is in part attributed to a rising number of recycling programs, such those to recycle carpet and shingles now can be recycled in locations across the state.
According to the DENR, a combination of effective policies, active recycling business growth, expansion of items that are recyclable, and momentum in local government recycling programs has helped to reduce dependence on landfill and to provide commodities to North Carolina material processors and manufacturers.
The study’s major findings include:
*Local government recycling programs have built a solid track record of capturing recyclable commodities from the waste stream and have recently begun a new period of expansion.
*Recent policy measures designed to divert recyclable commodities from landfills are showing strong signs of success.
*The state’s plastic bottle recycling rate has increased by almost 50% since the disposal ban was passed in 2005.
*Recycling is steadily contributing to job creation and business growth in North Carolina, while providing valuable materials to in-state processors and
*Even as the construction economy struggles in North Carolina, private construction and demolition facilities are increasing their recycling efforts.
*An all-time high of 112,315 tons (102,000 tonnes) of construction waste at private facilities was recycled in 2010.
*Composting is an active area of recycling expansion and can be expected to contribute increasingly to the state’s waste reduction efforts. Commercial composters processed more than 220,000 tons (200,000 tonnes) of organic materials in 2010.
*Additional materials are becoming recyclable as collectors, processors and end-users boost their appetite for a wider range of recovered products and commodities.
“The opportunities continue to present themselves to make recycling both a core environmental and economic policy of the state,” said DENR Secretary Dee Freeman. “It is a proven green job and green business creator and it delivers a wide range of environmental benefits. We can expect more growth ahead in the recovery of key commodities.”
However, despite the momentum achieved in the past few years, the ENR warns of challenges ahead, specifically improving the market value for materials such as construction wastes, and expanding the capture of organic materials for composting and energy generation. Read More.